|Intro||American actor, comedian, author, producer, musician, activist|
|A.K.A.||Cosby, William Henry, Jr., William Henry "Bill" Cosby, Jr.|
|Is||Actor Musician Television actor Writer Dub actor Composer Singer Film actor American football player|
|From||United States of America|
|Type||Film, Television, Stage and Radio Literature Music Sports|
|Birth||12 July 1937, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.|
William Henry Cosby Jr. (; born July 12, 1937) is an American stand-up comedian, actor, musician, and author.
His start in stand-up comedy began at the hungry i in San Francisco. He then landed a starring role in the 1960s television show I Spy, followed by his own sitcom, The Bill Cosby Show, which ran for two seasons from 1969 to 1971.
Using the Fat Albert character developed during his stand-up routines, Cosby created, produced, and hosted the animated comedy television series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, a show that ran from 1972 to 1985, centering on a group of young friends growing up in an urban area. Throughout the 1970s, Cosby starred in a number of films, and he occasionally returned to film later in his career. He attended Temple University in the 1960s and received his bachelor's degree there in 1971. In 1973, he received a master's degree from the University of Massachusetts, and in 1976, he earned his Doctor of Education degree, also from UMass. His dissertation discussed the use of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids as a teaching tool in elementary schools.
Beginning in the 1980s, Cosby produced and starred in a television sitcom, The Cosby Show, which aired from 1984 to 1992 and was rated as the number one show in America for five years, 1984 through 1989. The sitcom highlighted the experiences and growth of an affluent African-American family. Cosby produced the Cosby Show spin-off sitcom A Different World, which aired from 1987 to 1993, starred in The Cosby Mysteries from 1994 to 1995, starred in the sitcom Cosby from 1996 to 2000; and hosted Kids Say the Darndest Things for two seasons, from 1998 to 2000.
Women have made numerous sexual assault accusations against Cosby, the earliest of which date back decades; these accusations did not become highly publicized until 2014. More than 60 women have accused him of rape, drug-facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery, child sexual abuse, and sexual misconduct. The statute of limitations has expired in nearly all accusations. On April 26, 2018, he was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault.
Cosby was born on July 12, 1937, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is one of four sons of Anna Pearl (née Hite), a maid, and William Henry Cosby Sr., who served as a mess steward in the U.S. Navy. During much of Cosby's early childhood and especially during WWII, his father was away from home in Navy service. As a student, he described himself as the class clown. Cosby was the class president as well as the captain of both the baseball and track and field teams at Mary Channing Wister Public School in Philadelphia. Early on, though, teachers noted that he had a propensity for clowning around instead of studying. At FitzSimons Junior High School, Cosby acted in plays and continued to compete in sports.
Cosby went to Philadelphia's Central High School, a magnet and academically rigorous college prep school, where he played football, basketball, baseball, and ran track. In addition, Cosby worked before and after school; he sold produce, shined shoes, and stocked shelves at a supermarket to help support his family. He transferred to Germantown High School, but failed the tenth grade. Instead of repeating, he quit school and got a job as an apprentice at a shoe repair shop. He liked the work but could not see himself doing it for the rest of his life.
In 1956, Cosby enlisted in the Navy and served at the Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, Naval Station Argentia, Newfoundland and at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland. During his four years in the Navy, Cosby served as a Hospital Corpsman. He worked in physical therapy with Navy and Marine Corps personnel who were injured during the Korean War.
Cosby earned his high school equivalency diploma via correspondence courses and was awarded a track and field scholarship to Temple University in 1961. At Temple, he studied physical education while he ran track and played fullback on the college's football team. As Cosby progressed through his undergraduate studies, he continued to hone his talent for humor; he joked with fellow enlistees in the service and then with college friends. When he began bartending at a Philadelphia club to earn money, he became more aware of his ability to make people laugh. Cosby entertained his customers with humor, which caused his tips to increase. He then proceeded to take his talent to the stage.
Cosby left Temple to pursue a career in comedy. He lined up standup jobs at clubs in Philadelphia and then in New York City, where he appeared at The Gaslight Cafe beginning in 1961. He booked dates in cities such as Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. In the summer of 1963, he received national exposure on NBC's The Tonight Show. This led to a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records, who, in 1964, released his debut LP Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow...Right!, the first of a series of comedy albums. His album To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With was number 1 on Spin Magazines list of "The 40 Greatest Comedy Albums of All Time", calling it "stand-up comedy's masterpiece".
While many comics of the time were using the growing freedom of that decade to explore material that was controversial and sometimes risqué, Cosby was making his reputation with humorous recollections of his childhood. Many Americans wondered about the absence of race as a topic in Cosby's stories. As Cosby's success grew he had to defend his choice of material regularly; as he argued, "A white person listens to my act and he laughs and he thinks, 'Yeah, that's the way I see it too.' Okay. He's white. I'm Negro. And we both see things the same way. That must mean that we are alike. Right? So I figure this way I'm doing as much for good race relations as the next guy."
In 1983, he released the concert film Bill Cosby: Himself; it is widely regarded as "the greatest comedy concert film ever". Younger, well-established comics like Jerry Seinfeld have credited Cosby as an innovator both as a practitioner of the genre of standup comedy, as well as a person who paved the way for comics to break into sitcom television. Seinfeld said of Cosby: "He opened a door for all of us, for all of the networks to even consider that this was a way to create a character, was to take someone who can hold an audience just by being up there and telling their story. He created that. He created the whole idea of taking a quote-unquote 'comic' and developing a TV show just from a persona that you see on stage." Comedian Larry Wilmore also saw a connection between Bill Cosby: Himself and the later success of The Cosby Show, saying: "It's clear that the concert is the template for The Cosby Show."
Cosby performed his first TV standup special in 30 years, "Bill Cosby: Far From Finished", on Comedy Central on November 23, 2013. Cosby's last show of the "Far From Finished" tour was performed at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, Georgia on May 2, 2015.
In 2014, Cosby was set to release his new standup special Bill Cosby 77 on Netflix. The release of the film was canceled due to allegations of sexual assault.
In 1965, Cosby was cast alongside Robert Culp in the I Spy espionage adventure series on NBC. I Spy became the first weekly dramatic television series to feature an African-American in a starring role. At first, Cosby and NBC executives were concerned that some affiliates might be unwilling to carry the series. At the beginning of the 1965 season, four stations declined the show; they were in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. Viewers were taken with the show's exotic locales and the authentic chemistry between the stars, and it became one of the ratings hits of that television season. I Spy finished among the twenty most-watched shows that year, and Cosby would be honored with three consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. When accepting his third Emmy for the show, Cosby told the audience: "Let the message be known to bigots and racists that they don’t count!"
During the series run, Cosby continued to do standup comedy performances and recorded a half dozen record albums for Warner Bros. Records. He also began to dabble in singing, recording Silver Throat: Bill Cosby Sings in 1967.
In June 1968, Billboard reported that Cosby had turned down a five-year, US$3.5 million contract renewal offer and would leave the label in August that year to record for his own record label.
In July 1968, Cosby narrated "Black History: Lost, Stolen, or Strayed", a CBS documentary addressing the representation of blacks in popular culture. Andy Rooney wrote the Emmy awarded script for Bill Cosby to read. Michael Eric Dyson said it was one of "the rare exceptions when Cosby took off the gloves and blinders, to discuss race in public with candor and discernment." Due to its popularity and controversial nature, it was rebroadcast less than a month later.
Tetragrammaton Records was a division of the Campbell, Silver, Cosby (CSC) Corporation, the Los Angeles-based production company founded by Cosby, his manager Roy Silver, and filmmaker Bruce Post Campbell. It produced films as well as records, including Cosby's television specials, the Fat Albert cartoon special and series and several motion pictures. CSC hired Artie Mogull as President of the label and Tetragrammaton was fairly active during 1968–69 (its most successful signing was British heavy rock band Deep Purple) but it quickly went into the red and ceased trading during 1970.
Fat Albert, The Bill Cosby Show, and the 1970s
Cosby pursued a variety of additional television projects and appeared as a regular guest host on The Tonight Show and as the star of an annual special for NBC. In 1969, he returned with another series, The Bill Cosby Show, a situation comedy that ran for two seasons. Cosby played a physical education teacher at a Los Angeles high school. While only a modest critical success, the show was a ratings hit, finishing eleventh in its first season. Cosby was lauded for using African-American performers such as Lillian Randolph, Moms Mabley, and Rex Ingram as characters. According to commentary on the Season 1 DVDs for the show, Cosby was at odds with NBC over his refusal to include a laugh track in the show (he felt that viewers had the ability to find humor for themselves when watching a TV show).
After The Bill Cosby Show left the air, Cosby resumed his formal education. He began graduate work at the University of Massachusetts. For the PBS series The Electric Company, Cosby recorded several segments teaching reading skills to young children.
When Cosby was about 35 years old in 1972, he received an MA from the University of Massachusetts and was also back in prime time with a variety series, The New Bill Cosby Show. However the show lasted only a season. More successful was a Saturday morning show, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, hosted by Cosby and based on his own childhood. That series ran from 1972 to 1979, and as The New Fat Albert Show in 1979, and The Adventures of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. In 1984 Cosby wrote the dissertation: "An Integration of the Visual Media Via 'Fat Albert And The Cosby Kids' into the Elementary School Curriculum as a Teaching Aid and Vehicle to Achieve Increased Learning". This was as partial fulfillment for his 1976 doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts. Subsequently, Temple University would grant him his bachelor's degree on the basis of "life experience."
Also during the 1970s Cosby and other African-American actors, including Sidney Poitier, joined forces to make some successful comedy films to counter the violent "blaxploitation" films of the era, such as, "Uptown Saturday Night" in 1974, "Let's Do It Again" in 1975; and in 1976, "Mother, Jugs & Speed", co-starring Raquel Welch and Harvey Keitel. About this last film a Rotten Tomatoes reviewer wrote, "Bill Cosby steals the film outright with his hilarious performance as "Mother", the streetwise seen-it-all EMT."
In 1976, Cosby starred in "A Piece of the Action" with Poitier; and "California Suite", a compilation of four Neil Simon plays. He also hosted Cos in 1976. In addition he produced an hour-long variety show featuring puppets, sketches, and musical numbers. It was during this season that ABC decided to take advantage of this phase of Cosby's career, by joining with Filmation producers of "Fat Albert" to create live-action segments starring Cosby, for the 1964/1971 animated film "Journey Back to Oz"; it subsequently aired in syndication. Cosby was also a regular on children's public television programs starting in the 1970s, hosting the "Picture Pages" segments that lasted into the early 1980s.
The Cosby Show and the 1980s
Cosby's greatest television success came in September 1984 with the debut of The Cosby Show. Cosby is an advocate for humor that is family oriented. While working on The Cosby Show he held creative control, co-produced the series and involved himself in every aspect of production. Plots were often based on ideas that Cosby suggested while in meetings with the writing staff. The show had parallels to Cosby's actual family life: like the characters Cliff and Clair Huxtable, Cosby and his wife Camille were college educated and financially successful, and they had five children. On the show, Cosby played the role of an obstetrician.
Much of the material from the pilot and first season of The Cosby Show was taken from his video Bill Cosby: Himself, released in 1983. The series was an immediate success, debuting near the top of the ratings and staying there for most of its long run.
In 1987, Cosby attempted to return to film with the spy spoof Leonard Part 6. Although Cosby himself was producer and wrote the story, he realized during production that the film was not going to be what he wanted and publicly denounced it, warning audiences to stay away.
In the 1980s Crosby served as an advisor to the Los Angeles Student Film Institute.
1990s and 2000s
After The Cosby Show went off the air in 1992, Cosby embarked on a number of other projects, including a revival of the classic Groucho Marx game show You Bet Your Life (1992–93) along with the TV-movie I Spy Returns (1994) and The Cosby Mysteries (1994). In the mid-1990s, he appeared as a detective in black-and-white film noir-themed commercials for Turner Classic Movies. He made appearances in three more films: Ghost Dad (1990), The Meteor Man (1993), and Jack (1996). In addition, he was interviewed in Spike Lee's 4 Little Girls (1997), a documentary about the 1963 racist bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama.
Also in 1996, he started up a new show for CBS, Cosby, again co-starring Phylicia Rashād, his onscreen wife on The Cosby Show. Cosby co-produced the show for Carsey-Werner Productions. It centered on Cosby as Hilton Lucas, an iconoclastic senior citizen who tries to find a new job after being downsized and, in the meantime, gets on his wife's nerves. Madeline Kahn co-starred as Rashād's goofy business partner Pauline. Cosby was hired by CBS to be the official spokesman of the WWJ-TV during an advertising campaign from 1995 to 1998. Cosby hosted a CBS special, Kids Say the Darndest Things on February 6, 1995, which was followed after as a full season show, with Cosby as host, from January 9, 1998, to June 23, 2000. After four seasons, Cosby was canceled. Its last episode aired April 28, 2000. Kids Say the Darndest Things was terminated the same year.
A series for preschoolers, Little Bill, made its debut on Nickelodeon in 1999. The network renewed the popular program in November 2000. In 2001, Cosby's agenda included the publication of a new book, as well as delivering the commencement addresses at Morris Brown College, Ohio State University, and at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Also that year, he signed a deal with 20th Century Fox to develop a live-action feature film centering on the popular Fat Albert character from his 1970's cartoon series. Fat Albert was released in theaters in December 2004. In May 2007, he spoke at the commencement of High Point University.
In the summer of 2009, Cosby hosted a comedy gala at Montreal's Just for Laughs, which is the largest comedy festival in the world.
Cosby received the National Football Foundation's Gold Medal in 2010
A new NBC show, that was scheduled for summer or autumn 2015, created by Mike O'Malley and Mike Sikowitz and to have been produced by The Cosby Show's Tom Werner, was set to feature Cosby as Jonathan Franklin, the patriarch of a multi-generational family. On November 19, 2014, NBC scrapped Cosby's new show after accusations resurfaced that he sexually assaulted women.
Reruns of The Cosby Show have been canceled as a result of the sexual assault allegations against Cosby. On November 19, 2014, TV Land and NBC both ended their relationships with Cosby: TV Land announced that it was pulling reruns from its schedule and also removing clips of the show from its Web site. In December 2014, the Magic Johnson-owned Aspire removed the series from its lineup. In July 2015, broadcast network Bounce TV pulled reruns, and BET's Centric (another Viacom unit) stopped airing reruns.
In late 2014, Creative Artists Agency, Cosby's agency since 2012, dropped him as a client.
Sexual assault conviction
Cosby has been the subject of highly publicized sexual assault allegations. The earliest incidents allegedly took place in the mid-1960s. Numerous women have accused Cosby of rape, drug facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery, child sexual abuse, and sexual misconduct. Assault allegations against Cosby became more public after comedian Hannibal Buress' October 2014 comedy routine that alluded to Cosby's covert sexual misbehavior went viral. Many additional claims were made after that date. The dates of the alleged incidents span from 1965 to 2008 across ten U.S. states and one Canadian province.
Cosby has repeatedly denied the allegations and maintained his innocence. In November 2014, he responded to a question about the allegations and said: "I don't talk about it".
In past interviews that were made public, Cosby declined to discuss the accusations. However, he told Florida Today, "people shouldn't have to go through that and shouldn't answer to innuendos". In May 2015 he said, "I have been in this business 52 years and I've never seen anything like this. Reality is a situation and I can't speak."
In the wake of the allegations, numerous organizations have severed ties with Cosby and previously awarded honors and titles have been revoked. Reruns of The Cosby Show and other shows featuring Cosby have also been pulled from syndication by many organizations. Twenty-five colleges and universities have rescinded his honorary degrees. In an attempt to explain the backlash against Cosby, Adweek reporter Jason Lynch noted that the "media landscape has changed considerably—and has now been joined by the far-less-forgiving social media arena".
Most of the alleged acts fall outside the statutes of limitations for criminal legal proceedings, but criminal charges have been filed against Cosby in one case and numerous civil lawsuits have been brought against him. As of November 2015, eight related civil lawsuits are active against Cosby. Gloria Allred is representing 33 of the alleged victims. In July 2015, some of the court records from Andrea Constand's 2005 civil lawsuit against Cosby were unsealed and released to the public. The full transcript of his deposition was also released to the media by a court reporting service. In his testimony, Cosby admitted to casual sex, involving recreational use of the sedative-hypnotic methaqualone (Quaaludes), with a series of young women, and acknowledged that his dispensing the prescription drug was illegal.
In December 2015, three Class II felony charges of aggravated indecent assault were filed against Cosby in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, based on allegations by Constand concerning incidents in January 2004. Cosby's first trial, in June 2017, ended in a mistrial. In his retrial by a jury, he was found guilty on April 26, 2018, of three counts of aggravated indecent assault.
Cosby received an award at the celebration of the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling—a ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court that outlawed racial segregation in schools. A little later in May 2004, he made public remarks that were critical of African Americans who put higher priorities on sports, fashion, and "acting hard" than on education, self-respect, and self-improvement. He pleaded for African-American families to educate their children on the many different aspects of American culture.
In the "Pound Cake" speech, Cosby asked that African-American parents teach their children better morals at a younger age. As reported in The Washington Times, Cosby "told reporters during a special session of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 34th annual legislative conference" that "Parenting needs to come to the forefront. If you need help and you don't know how to parent, we want to be able to reach out and touch you." Richard Leiby of The Washington Post reported, "Bill Cosby was anything but politically correct in his remarks Monday night at a Constitution Hall bash commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision."
Cosby again came under sharp criticism and was again largely unapologetic for his stance when he made similar remarks during a speech at a July 1 meeting commemorating the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. During that speech, he admonished apathetic blacks for not assisting or concerning themselves with the individuals who are involved with crime or have counterproductive aspirations. He further described those who needed attention as blacks who "had forgotten the sacrifices of those in the Civil Rights Movement."
In 2005, Georgetown University sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson wrote a book, Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind? In the book, Dyson wrote that Cosby was overlooking larger social factors that reinforce poverty and associated crime; factors such as deteriorating schools, stagnating wages, dramatic shifts in the economy, offshoring and downsizing, chronic underemployment, and job and capital flight. Dyson suggested that Cosby's comments "betray classist, elitist viewpoints rooted in generational warfare."
Cornel West defended Cosby and his remarks, saying, "he's speaking out of great compassion and trying to get folk to get on the right track, 'cause we've got some brothers and sisters who are not doing the right things, just like in times in our own lives, we don't do the right thing... He is trying to speak honestly and freely and lovingly, and I think that's a very positive thing."
In a 2008 interview, Cosby mentioned Atlanta; Chicago; Detroit; Oakland, California; Philadelphia; and Springfield, Massachusetts among the cities where crime was high and young African-American men were being murdered and jailed in disproportionate numbers. Cosby stood his ground against criticism and affirmed that African-American parents were continuing to fail to inculcate proper standards of moral behavior.
Cosby has also been vocally critical of conservative Republican politicians in regard to their views on socioeconomic and racial issues. In a 2013 CNN interview regarding voting rights, Cosby stated "this Republican Party is not the Republican Party of 1863, of Abraham Lincoln, abolitionists and slavery, is not good. I think it's important for us to look at the underlying part of it. What is the value of it? Is it that some people are angry because my people no longer want to work for free?"
Cosby married Camille Olivia Hanks on January 25, 1964. Together, they had five children, Erika (b. 1965), Erinn (b. 1966), Ennis (1969–1997), Ensa (1973–2018), and Evin (b. 1976). Their only son, Ennis, was murdered on January 16, 1997, while changing a flat tire on the side of Interstate 405 in Los Angeles. Cosby's daughter Ensa died of renal disease on February 23, 2018, while awaiting a kidney transplant. The Cosbys have three grandchildren.
Cosby is a Protestant. He maintains homes in Shelburne, Massachusetts, and Cheltenham, Pennsylvania.
Cosby hosted the Los Angeles Playboy Jazz Festival from 1979 to 2012 (George Lopez has hosted the event since then). Known as a jazz drummer, he can also be seen playing bass guitar with Jerry Lewis and Sammy Davis, Jr. on Hugh Hefner's 1970s talk show. His story, "The Regular Way", was featured in Playboy's December 1968 issue. Cosby has become an active member of The Jazz Foundation of America. Cosby became involved with the foundation in 2004. For several years, he has been a featured host for its annual benefit, A Great Night in Harlem, at the Apollo Theater in New York City.
Cosby and his wife have collected over 300 works of African American art since 1967. The works went on display in "Conversations", an exhibit at the National Museum of African Art in 2014. The show became controversial as the increasing number of sexual assault allegations against Cosby became prominent.
Cosby is a supporter of his alma mater, Temple University, particularly its men's basketball team, whose games Cosby frequently attended prior to his arrest. He is also a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity; he was initiated in the fraternity's Beta Alpha Alpha graduate chapter in White Plains, New York, in 1988.
In 2016, Cosby's attorneys reported that he is now legally blind. In an April 2017 interview with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (an interview he only agreed to do as long as the NNPA portrayed him in a positive light), both Cosby and a former publicist of his confirmed this, noting he lost his sight at some point in 2015.
Autumn Jackson extortion trial
During Autumn Jackson's extortion trial in July 1997, Cosby testified that he made private payments to Shawn Upshaw, a woman who had briefly been his lover in Las Vegas during the early 1970s. Upshaw later told Cosby that he was the father of her daughter, Autumn Jackson. Cosby denies being the father and said that he gave Upshaw a total of about $100,000 because he did not want her to publicly reveal the affair. The then 22-year-old Autumn Jackson was sentenced to 26 months in jail for trying to extort US$40 million from Cosby. In the trial and subsequent appeal, the courts held that Jackson's belief that she was Cosby's child—even if sincere—was irrelevant to the question of her guilt. The courts stated that the mere fact that she was Cosby's child would not have entitled her to the $40 million she demanded, and therefore the demand was extortionate, whether or not she believed herself to be Cosby's daughter. Although both Jackson and Cosby stated at various times that they were willing to undergo DNA testing to determine Jackson's paternity, the two sides never reached an agreement as to when and how to perform the test. After Jackson's conviction, Cosby provided a blood sample for testing, but Jackson refused to participate.
Awards and honors
- 1998: Received the Kennedy Center Honor.
- 2002: The scholar Molefi Kete Asante included him in his book The 100 Greatest African Americans.
- 2005: In a British poll broadcast on Channel 4 to find the Comedian's Comedian, he was voted among the top-50 comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.
- 2009: Presented with the 12th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
- 2010: Received the Lone Sailor Award by the United States Navy Memorial.
Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series – Primetime Emmys
1966 I Spy – Alexander Scott
1967 I Spy – Alexander Scott
1968 I Spy – Alexander Scott
Outstanding Variety Or Musical Program – Primetime Emmys
1969 The Bill Cosby Special
Best Comedy Performance – Grammy Awards
1965 I Started Out as a Child
1966 Why Is There Air?
1969 To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With
1987 Those of You with or Without Children, You'll Understand
Best Recording for Children – Grammy Awards
1971 The Electric Company – Cast member
1972 Bill Cosby Talks to Kids About Drugs
Cosby has been awarded at least 57 Honorary degrees since 1985 (many have been revoked; see next section):
- Honorary Doctorate from Spelman College in 1986.
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Wesleyan University in 1987.
- Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Howard University, awarded in 1989.
- Honorary Doctorate from Rust College on November 20, 1990.
- Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Temple University in 1991.
- Honorary Doctorate from the College of William & Mary in 1993.
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Northwestern University in 1997.
- Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Southern California, May 8, 1998.
- Honorary Doctorate from Old Dominion University awarded on May 9, 1998.
- Honorary Doctorate from Colgate University, May 22, 1999; he was also the keynote speaker for the commencement ceremony.
- Honorary Doctorate from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2000.
- Honorary Degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2001
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Cincinnati in 2001.
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the Juilliard School in 2002.
- Honorary Doctorate from Springfield College in 2002.
- Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill awarded on May 19, 2003.
- Honorary Doctorate from Paine College in 2003.
- Honorary Degree in 2003 from Sisseton Wahpeton College for his contributions to minority education.
- Honorary Doctorate from West Chester University of Pennsylvania during the 2003 graduation ceremony.
- Honorary Doctorate from Hampton University in 2003.
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Yale University, May 26, 2003.
- Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music, May 8, 2004. Cosby was also the host of the school's 60th Anniversary Concert in January 2006.
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, December 5, 2008.
Rescinded honorary degrees
Following numerous allegations of sexual assault made against Cosby, a number of his honorary degrees were rescinded or revoked. They include, in order of rescission:
- Honorary Doctor of Letters from Brown University; awarded May 1985, rescinded September 2015
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Amherst College, awarded in 1999, rescinded October 17, 2015.
- Honorary Doctor of Laws from Lehigh University; awarded May 1987, rescinded February 2016
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from University of Missouri-Columbia; awarded 1990, rescinded June 2017
- Honorary Doctor of Letters from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; awarded 1992, rescinded November 2015
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Swarthmore College; awarded 1995, rescinded December 2015
- Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of Connecticut; awarded May 18, 1996 (also served as commencement speaker) rescinded June 2016
- Honorary Doctor of Arts from Tufts University; awarded 2000, rescinded October 2015
- Honorary Doctorate from Goucher College; awarded 2001, rescinded October 2015
- Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from Fordham University; awarded 2001, rescinded September 2015
- Honorary Doctorate from the University of San Francisco awarded on May 18, 2012, rescinded on September 25, 2015.
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Franklin & Marshall College, awarded in May 2000, rescinded on October 19, 2015.
- Honorary Doctorate from Bryant University, awarded in May 1994, rescinded on November 12, 2015.
- Honorary Doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh awarded in 2002, rescinded on November 13, 2015.
- Honorary Doctorate from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, awarded June 1, 1995, rescinded November 23, 2015.
- Honorary Doctor of Humanities from George Washington University in 1997, rescinded January 11, 2016.
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Haverford College; awarded May 2002, rescinded February 6, 2016
- Honorary Doctorate from Drew University; awarded May 2002, rescinded October 2015
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Baylor University; awarded September 4, 2003, at the "Spirit Rally" for the Baylor and Central Texas communities, rescinded October 2015
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Wilkes University; awarded May 2004, rescinded October 2015
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Oberlin College; awarded May 1, 2010, rescinded December 2015
- Honorary Chief Petty Officer (Hospital Corpsman) in the United States Navy, awarded 2011, revoked December 4, 2014
- Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from The University of San Francisco; awarded May 18, 2012, rescinded September 2015
- Honorary Doctor of Letters from Marquette University; awarded May 19, 2013, rescinded September 2015
- Honorary Doctorate from Drexel University, awarded in 1992, rescinded on November 12, 2015.
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Boston University; awarded May 18, 2014, rescinded December 2015
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from University of Missouri-Columbia; awarded 1990, rescinded June 2017
- Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Pennsylvania; awarded 1990 (Cosby also served as the commencement speaker in May 1997), rescinded February 1, 2018
- Honorary Doctor of Education from Ohio State University, awarded in 2001, rescinded April 6, 2018.
- Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Notre Dame, awarded on May 20, 1990, rescinded on April 26, 2018.
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Johns Hopkins University, awarded in 2004, rescinded on April 26, 2018.
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Carnegie Mellon University, May 20, 2007; he was also the keynote speaker for the commencement ceremony. Rescinded on April 26, 2018.
- Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow...Right! (1963)
- I Started Out as a Child (1964)
- Why Is There Air? (1965)
- Wonderfulness (1966)
- Revenge (1967)
- To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With (1968)
- 200 M.P.H. (1968)
- 8:15 12:15 (1969)
- It's True! It's True! (1969)
- Sports (1969)
- Live: Madison Square Garden Center (1970)
- When I Was a Kid (1971)
- For Adults Only (1971)
- Bill Cosby Talks to Kids About Drugs (1971)
- Inside the Mind of Bill Cosby (1972)
- Fat Albert (1973)
- My Father Confused Me... What Must I Do? What Must I Do? (1977)
- Bill's Best Friend (1978)
- Bill Cosby: Himself (1982)
- Those of You with or Without Children, You'll Understand (1986)
- Oh, Baby! (1991)
- Far from Finished (TV broadcast on November 23, 2013, Blu-ray, DVD, CD, and digital distribution on November 26, 2013)
- Silver Throat: Bill Cosby Sings (1967)
- Bill Cosby Sings Hooray for the Salvation Army Band! (1968)
- Badfoot Brown & the Bunions Bradford Funeral & Marching Band (1971)
- Charles Mingus and Friends in Concert – As master of ceremonies (Columbia, 1972)
- Bill Cosby Presents Badfoot Brown & the Bunions Bradford Funeral Marching Band (1972)
- At Last Bill Cosby Really Sings (1974)
- Bill Cosby Is Not Himself These Days (1976)
- Disco Bill (1977)
- Where You Lay Your Head (1990)
- My Appreciation (1991)
- Hello Friend: To Ennis, With Love (1997)
- Quincy Jones & Bill Cosby – The Original Jam Sessions 1969 (2004)
- Quincy Jones & Bill Cosby – The New Mixes Vol. 1 (2004)
- State of Emergency (2009)
- Keep Standing (2010)
- The Best of Bill Cosby (1969)
- More of the Best of Bill Cosby (1970)
- Bill (1973)
- Down Under (1975)
- Cosby and the Kids (1986)
- At His Best (1994)
- 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best of Bill Cosby (2001)
- The Bill Cosby Collection (2004)
- Icon (2011)
|1967||"Little Ol' Man (Uptight—Everything's Alright)"||4||18|
|1970||"Grover Henson Feels Forgotten"||70||—|
|1976||"I Luv Myself Better Than I Luv Myself"||—||59|
|"Yes, Yes, Yes"||46||11|
|1965–1968||I Spy||Alexander Scott||Main role (82 episodes)|
|1969||Hey, Hey, Hey, It's Fat Albert||Bill / Fat Albert / Dumb Donald (voice)||Movie; also writer|
|1969–1971||The Bill Cosby Show||Chet Kincaid||Lead role (52 episodes); also executive producer|
|1971||Man and Boy||Caleb Revers||Movie|
|1971–1973||The Electric Company||Hank||260 episodes|
|1972||The New Bill Cosby Show||Himself/host|
|1972–1985||Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids||"Fat" Albert Jackson (voice) / Himself/host||Main role (34 episodes); also creator|
|1972||To All My Friends on Shore||Blue||Movie|
|1974||Journey Back to Oz||The Wizard of Oz||TV version|
|1977–1990||Pinwheel||Himself||Host of the Picture Pages segment|
|1978||Top Secret||Aaron Strickland||Movie|
|1984–1992||The Cosby Show||Dr. Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable||Main role (197 episodes); also creator and theme music composer|
|1987||A Different World||Dr. Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable||3 episodes; also creator and theme music composer|
|1992–1993||You Bet Your Life||Himself/host||Game show; also theme music composer|
|1994–1995||The Cosby Mysteries||Guy Hanks||Lead role (18 episodes)|
|1994||I Spy Returns||Alexander Scott||Movie|
|1996–2000||Cosby||Hilton Lucas||Main role (95 episodes); also exec. producer and theme music composer|
|1998–2000||Kids Say the Darndest Things||Himself/host|
|1999–2004||Little Bill||Captain Brainstorm (voice)||Also exec. producer, writer and theme music composer|
|2010–2012||OBKB||Himself||33 episodes; also executive producer|
|1968||Black History: Lost, Stolen, or Strayed||Self||Documentary|
|1969||Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice||Patron at Nightclub||Uncredited|
|1972||Hickey & Boggs||Al Hickey|
|1974||Uptown Saturday Night||Wardell Franklin|
|1975||Let's Do It Again||Billy Foster|
|1976||Mother, Jugs & Speed||Mother|
|1977||A Piece of the Action||Dave Anderson|
|1978||California Suite||Dr. Willis Panama|
|1981||The Devil and Max Devlin||Barney Satin|
|1987||Leonard Part 6||Leonard Parker||Also producer and writer|
|1987||Bill Cosby: 49||Himself||Live comedy concert film released on VHS|
|1990||Ghost Dad||Elliot Hopper|
|1993||The Meteor Man||Marvin|
|2004||Fat Albert||Himself||Also executive producer and writer|
|2014||Bill Cosby 77||Himself||Release cancelled|
- Cosby, Bill (1986). Fatherhood. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-23410-8. OCLC 15686687.
- Cosby, Bill (1987). Time Flies. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-24040-6. OCLC 16081611.
- Cosby, Bill (1989). Love and Marriage. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-24664-4. OCLC 18984758.
- Cosby, Bill (1991). Childhood. New York: Putnam. ISBN 978-0-399-13647-4. OCLC 23650310.
- Cosby, Bill (1998). Kids Say the Darndest Things. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 978-0-553-11043-2. OCLC 39498709.
- Cosby, Bill (1999). Congratulations! Now What?: A Book for Graduates. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 978-0-7868-6572-7. OCLC 40979923.
- Allen, Dwight William; Cosby, Bill (2000). American Schools: The $100 Billion Challenge. New York: IPublish.com. ISBN 978-0-7595-5000-1. OCLC 48915448.
- Cosby, Bill; Booth, George (2001). Cosbyology: Essays and Observations from the Doctor of Comedy. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 978-0-7868-6810-0. OCLC 46359836.
- Cosby, Bill (2003). I Am What I Ate ... and I'm Frightened!!!: And Other Digressions from the Doctor of Comedy. New York: HarperEntertainment. ISBN 978-0-06-054573-4. OCLC 52387894.
- Cosby, Bill; Cosby, Erika (2003). Friends of a Feather: One of Life's Little Fables. New York: Harper Entertainment. ISBN 978-0-06-009147-7. OCLC 52206847.
- Cosby, Bill; Poussaint, Alvin F. (2007). Come on, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors. Nashville: Thomas Nelson. ISBN 978-1-59555-092-7. OCLC 153581209.
- Cosby, Bill (2011). I Didn't Ask to Be Born (But I'm Glad I Was). New York: Center Street. ISBN 978-0-89296-920-3. OCLC 707964887.